Would it be appropriate to expand our emphasis on BBQ to burgers. I had a very good one at Mr. Bartley's in Cambridge and many say it's the best in world with seven ounces of sirloin freshly ground on a soggy bun. Apparently the owner is a tyrant who yells at his staff in front of patrons and doesn't care about antagonizing customers. The burger there has been compared to Fuddrucker's but I found it much less standardized. Of course, I have seen no prospective studies on life expectancy as a function of burger eating, but would imagine quite a negative correlation as they don't seem to figure prominently in the Okinawa or Mediterranean diets and indeed are verboten in the Shinya diet. But it has to be better than BBQ and perhaps we would do a public service by expanding out of BBQ to a place that has vegetables, albeit the fries at Mr. B's were terrible with no potato taste and all crisp on the outside with a heavy unhealthy saturated fry.





Speak your mind

7 Comments so far

  1. Sam Humbert on July 21, 2009 7:41 pm

    Bartley's is good, though I've always found the service slow and indifferent. On the plus side, they have outdoor seating in the summer and haven't objected when our greyhound joined us for lunch. And it's nice that they've bounced back after their kitchen fire last summer.

    Better, and closer to Dr. Niederhoffer's home, is Burger Bar & Bistro in SoNo, which is now my younger son's "favorite restaurant" — we took him there to celebrate his birthday last week. And where else in spendy Fairfield County do they serve $2 PBRs? The only downside used to be the crowded seating and wait times, but they recently took over the adjacent storefront, doubling their size, and also built an outdoor patio.

    In the same neck of the woods, Southport Brewery's  burgers are very good — "served with our famous brew fries." And nationally, Ted's Montana is fantastic — if you can overlook the owner's abhorrent politics.

  2. Steve Leslie on July 21, 2009 11:57 pm

    On Burgers:

    I do not see how one would put burgers and BBQ on the same plane.

    When one is discussing BBQ there seem to be many moving parts to this story. BBQ in and of itself is an extremely complex, subtle yet enormously challenging undertaking. It has confounded the greatest of chefs and the most respected gastronomic experts for cemturies if not millenia. It is a pastiche of emotions, a panoply of diverse tastes and quirky fashion.

    First one would need to properly prepare the particular fare in question. There is poultry, Porcine, and beef, to consider in BBQ. Each carries it's own particular issues, nuances and foibles. With respect to baby back ribs, will they be baked in an oven for a period of time to slowly tenderize the meat or merely drawn from the cooler, thawed and slapped on the grille?

    Next, what subset would we be discussing. For example, will we be discussing pulled pork, pork ribs, sliced pork, pork butts.

    Third, how is the food cooked. Once again, what is the wood in usage. Hickory or some other wood. Will briquettes be in order. Is it cooked on an open flame. Or would it be prepared inside a smoker?

    The fourth point in question might be the all-important sauce. The base, constituency, balance, aroma after-taste etc. Now we go to a very esoteric and subtle level.

    Five. What sides fit in with the food. Shall we incorporate spinach, okra, corn, corn on-the-cob, beans. What is the proper complement to the main course.

    Six. coming back to pulled pork. Will it be presented on a salad, a kaiser roll, hoagie, a large bun, texas toast, stand-alone?

    Seven. What will we be drinking along with the meal. Unsweetened Tea, Sweetened Tea, lemonade, soda, wine, spirits.

    Eight, Ambience. Will we want elegance, down-home, backwoods, Southern atmosphere, rustic?

    Nine. How shall we end the evening. A dessert such as an apple, cherry, blueberry, boysenberry pie. Hot crossed buns. Perhaps something as simple as an ice cream or sorbet.

    Ten. Cost and service. Did it present value and worth.

    Therefore as one sees the enormous complexities of a true BBQ experience is of such elephantine may I say biblical proportions, that to equate such to the All-American Burger would be in all likelihood heretical and an outright affront to the great American experience we have come to know and love as Barbeque.

    Respectfully Submitted


  3. Bill Welch on July 22, 2009 11:42 am

    You should try a Saugy Dog platter with jerk sauce & fries at the West Deck in Newport, RI. My favorite lunch!

  4. Ken Drees on July 22, 2009 2:09 pm

    From G_d to hamburgers — why not?! What I am most interested in regarding the hamburger — what is the best mix of beef cuts to use? I heard that butchers would mix three different cuts in a hamburger grind in order to get the correct fat, flavor and texture. I think the modern supermarket has buried this concept under 80/20, 90/10 labels denoting fat content only. Going further back in time, some butchers would basically just grind up trimmings from other cuts from that day — making the hamburger grind for the next day — so it was a pot luck affair. Anyone know?

  5. Bill Welch on July 23, 2009 8:32 am

    When in New Haven, CT try Louis Lunch for a burger. Since 1895.

  6. Anton Johnson on July 23, 2009 12:01 pm

    I rarely indulge myself to a beef burger, maybe once or twice per year on average. At that rate, I believe Dr. Shinya would not strongly disapprove.

    I recently had a discussion about ground beef production with one of my brothers-in-law, who is employed as a butcher at a national chain grocer. He doesn’t purchase beef pre-ground, but rather he self-grinds premium trimmings and shelf items, i.e. steaks and roasts, nearing expiration. Noteworthy though is that the newly ground beef retains the nearest expiration date of any component used in the grind. For grilled burgers he recommends a fat-to-lean ratio of 1 to 4, and that a grind with any lower fat ratio will result in burgers that are dry and have a poor “mouth feel”.

    However, caveat emptor, as his employer leaves much discretion to the individual butcher as to which beef products are used in the grind they produce. Most important; get to know your butcher and his product.

  7. Jan-Petter Janssen on July 26, 2009 6:27 pm

    Just a minute walk west from Mr. Bartley's is another outstanding restaurant. A hundred feet before you reach Harvard Square, you'll see a Chinese restaurant. It does not look anything special, but don't let this fool you. I've never received better service — no matter what price range. As soon as your glass or cup of tea is half empty, they refill it. During the meal they may ask if you want you a soup (free of charge), and even after I've paid the bill they once gave a free desert. The staff is truly friendly. Bottom line is that they make every customer feel like their most important one. Or maybe I'm wrong? I've only been there with my Chinese friend (who presented herself at the Junto) and it wouldn't surprise me if her special charm has something to do with it…


Resources & Links